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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Boulder Shooting: What We Know About the Victims

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Boulder Shooting: What We Know About the Victims

Ten people were killed on Monday when a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Boulder[1], Colo., the authorities said. They included a Boulder police officer, a young grocery store worker and a retiree filling orders for Instacart.

Among the victims was Officer Eric Talley, 51, with the Boulder Police Department, who had responded to a “barrage” of 911 calls about the shooting. Authorities identified the nine other people who were killed as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.

Here is what we know so far about their lives.

Credit…Boulder Police Department
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An 11-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department, Eric Talley was described as “heroic” by Chief Maris Herold at the scene of the shooting on Monday night.

“He was the first on the scene, and he was fatally shot,” Chief Herold said in a news conference.

“The world lost a great soul,” said Officer Talley’s father, Homer Talley. “He was a devoted father — seven kids. The youngest was 7 and the oldest was 20, and his family was the joy of his life.”

Officer Talley joined the police force as a second career when he was 40, quitting a job in cloud communications.

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“He wanted to serve people, Mr. Talley said. “All kids want to be a policeman, and in many ways, he was a big kid.”

On Twitter[2], a woman who described herself as the officer’s sister, Kirstin, said she was heartbroken. “I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many. Fly high my sweet brother. You always wanted to be a pilot (damn color blindness). Soar.”

In 2013, the local newspaper, The Boulder Daily Camera, featured Officer Talley[3] and two other members of the force who had waded into a local drainage ditch to rescue a trapped mother duck and 11 ducklings. “He was drenched after this,” Sgt. Jack Walker told the paper. “They would go into these little pipes and he would have to try and fish them out.”

Talley is the sixth on-duty death in the department’s history and the first officer killed in the line of duty since 1994, the paper reported.

Rikki Olds, a 25-year-old who loved the outdoors, was a front-end manager at King Soopers, where she had worked for about seven or eight years, her uncle, Robert Olds, said.

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She was an energetic, bubbly and “happy-go-lucky” young woman who “brought life to the family,” her uncle said. And she had persevered, despite hardship. She was the oldest of three siblings, and was raised by her grandparents in Lafayette, Colo., he said.

Mr. Olds described his niece as a strong and independent woman who enjoyed hiking and camping. She liked spending time with friends and family and often accompanied him and her cousins to their baseball games.

The whole family is in shock, particularly Ms. Olds’s grandmother, Mr. Olds said. “My mom was her mom,” he said. “My mom raised her.”

Lynn Murray, 62, a former photo director and mother of two, was at the grocery store on Monday filling an Instacart order, which she had enjoyed doing to help people since her retirement.

“She was an amazing woman, probably the kindest person I’ve ever known,” her husband, John Mackenzie, said.

Ms. Murray was a former photo director for several magazines in New York, her husband said. The couple moved from New York in 2002, first to Stuart, Fla., then to Colorado, to raise their children.

“I just want her to be remembered as just as this amazing, amazing comet spending 62 years flying across the sky,” Mr. Mackenzie said. She is also survived by two children: Olivia, 24, and Pierce, 22.

Ms. Murray was artistic, always drawing, doodling and painting, and designed Halloween costumes for her children, Olivia Mackenzie said.

“The most undeserving person to have to be shot down I can think of has to be my mother,” she said, “and I just wish it could have been me.”

Credit…Michael Bartkowiak

Tralona Lynn “Lonna” Bartkowiak, 49, managed a shop in Boulder that sold yoga and festival clothing, said her brother, Michael Bartkowiak of Roseburg, Ore.

He described his older sister, the eldest of four close-knit, California-born siblings, as “an amazing person, just a beam of light.” She had moved to Boulder to run the store, Umba[4], which had been launched by their sister.

“She rented a house outside Boulder,” he said, “and lived there with her little Chihuahua, Opal. She had just gotten engaged. She was, you know, organic — stir fries, salads — she was always trying to be healthier.”

Mr. Bartkowiak had last seen his sister about a month ago, he said, when the family gathered in southern Oregon. “We just hung out and talked and chilled. That was the last time I saw her.”

His voice caught. “She was just great,” he said. “No, she is great. Still is.”

Credit…Sebastian Harvey

Teri Leiker, 51, had worked for about 30 years at King Soopers, according to her friend, Alexis Knutson, 22.

Ms. Knutson met Ms. Leiker through a program called Best Buddies that connects students at University of Colorado Boulder and members of the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She remembered attending university sporting events together, and how Ms. Leiker loved to cheer on the teams.

Despite their age difference, Ms. Knutson said, they bonded. “I always had a rule she couldn’t call before 9 a.m. because I like my sleep,” she said. “She would always call me at 6 a.m.”

Ms. Knutson struggled to comprehend what had happened.

“The fact that this happened is just devastating, especially somewhere where she goes to work every day,” she said.

Eve Rose, 55, has shopped at King Soopers for years and said Ms. Leiker, a grocery bagger, was a warm and familiar presence.

“As soon as I saw her I would stop being irritable and impatient,” Ms. Rose said, trying to hold back tears. “Something about her air, her smile, just soothed me.”

Shoppers recalled Ms. Leiker’s routine: If a customer tried to help her bag, she was known to cheerfully swat away their hand and say, “I’ve got this.”

Kevin Mahoney, 61, was formerly the chief operating officer for Stonebridge Companies, a hotel development and hospitality management company, before he left in 2014, according to Andy Boian, a spokesman for the group.

He was also about to become a grandfather, according to his daughter, Erika Mahoney, the news director for KAZU Public Radio in the Monterey, Calif., area.

“I am heartbroken to announce that my Dad, my hero, Kevin Mahoney, was killed in the King Soopers shooting,” she said on Twitter. “My dad represents all things Love. I’m so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer.”

“I am now pregnant. I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter,” she said. “I love you forever Dad. You are always with me.”

Credit…via Facebook

Denny Stong, 20, had worked at King Soopers for several years. A high school friend described him as one of the kindest people she had ever met.

He was an avid dirt biker and dreamed of becoming a pilot, according to those who knew him. He worked extra shifts at King Soopers to save money for plane fuel while he worked to get his pilot’s license, said Laura Spicer, whose son was Mr. Stong’s best friend.

“Denny was a confident and really generous person who always met you with a smile and had really high aspirations for his life,” Ms. Spicer, 55, said.

Molly Proch, a friend from Fairview High School in Boulder, said Mr. Stong enjoyed hunting and was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment but also supported strengthening certain gun regulations. “He was so passionate about expressing how he thought the government should handle weapons,” to avoid mass shootings, she said. “And then this is how he’s not here anymore.”

Mr. Stong had recently posted on his Facebook page[5], encouraging friends to donate to the National Foundation for Gun Rights Inc. for his birthday.

Credit…DCPA Theatre Company

Neighbors knew Suzanne L. Fountain, 59, as a prolific gardener who passed a steady stream of tomatoes, lettuce and basil over the tall wooden fence surrounding her yard. “She would always share her abundance with us.” said Laura Rose Boyle Gaydos, who until recently had lived next door for more than two years.

She was particularly fond of peach tree that she had planted, and could often be found sitting outside in the early evening, watching the sunset over the mountains. Those who knew her described her as joyous, fun, bright and warm.

Ms. Fountain had lived in her house for more than 20 years, raising her son Nathaniel there.

She was an actress in the early 1990s. More recently, she found a creative outlet in eTown, a nationally syndicated public radio show produced in Boulder that combines music and conversation.

She had worked as financial adviser at a Boulder health center, and then in 2018 embarked on a new career, starting a business to advise people newly turned 65 about how to apply for Medicare.

Neven Stanisic, 23, had been fixing coffee machines at the Starbucks inside the supermarket, and was in the parking lot, just leaving, when he was gunned down, said the family’s priest, the Rev. Radovan Petrovic.

The son of Serbian refugees who had fled Central Bosnia during the violence of the 1990s, Mr. Stanisic was born in the United States. His Facebook page is filled with anime drawings, and his profile picture shows him in a blue cap and gown, posing with friends from his Lakewood, Co., high school.

He was the shining hope, Father Petrovic said, “of a family who, like many refugees, had come with basically nothing but their lives, to start a new life here.”

After high school, Mr. Stanisic had gone straight to work repairing coffee machines throughout the Denver area with his father, said Father Petrovic.

“And now, the biggest question for the family, besides all the sorrow they are enduring, is how this could have happened here,” he said. “They fled war to save their lives, and to be struck by such a terrible tragedy — the loss is beyond comprehension.”

Jack Begg, Kitty Bennett and Susan C. Beachy contributed research.


  1. ^ Boulder (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ On Twitter (twitter.com)
  3. ^ featured Officer Talley (www.dailycamera.com)
  4. ^ Umba (umbalove.com)
  5. ^ had recently posted on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com)

Shawn Hubler, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Marie Fazio, Elizabeth Dias and Neil MacFarquhar

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Boulder Shooting: What We Know About the Victims
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